Went to Chelmsford Cathedral today. Pretty good going - once in 2 years and now twice in a week! It was the Maundy Thursday Chrism Eucharist and renewal of ministerial vows. Since Bishop John of Chelmsford is retiring in August, this was his last go, and so it was an emotional time for him. He preached on cheap grace vs free grace, since today is the anniversary of the execution of Dietrich Boenhoeffer.
This got me thinking a lot, especially about the difference between us knowing Christ and his knowing us. Bp John was right, I think, to put the emphasis on Christ knowing us, because this puts in counterpoint the way that lots of Christians and Churches put God in a box and make him be and do what they want, (Cheap grace) not what he wants (free grace).
I suppose I was watching out for this following the recent discussion at Elizaphanian (go to the comments section) about worship, plus also because of stuff going on here, but +John's words resonated for me; it's not that I don't believe in the importance of knowing Jesus personally, but I do think too many people regard worship as entertainment for them, rather than an offering to God. Yes, some worship can be crap, but the definition of that crapness (?word) is not merely based on whether or not I like it.
I for example have posted before about how I generally don't go in for Cathedral worship, and today was no exception, but because as I just said, it was John Galdwyn's last go, it was special. It was the only time I've ever agreed with people when they clapped the sermon (although that act in itself deconstructed the sermon by showing us all seeing it as entertainment for us!) In thinking about how we at Stebbing relate to the wider community there is a growing sense that our model of church is broken; we are stuck in the mindset that people are going to come to us and join in our fun (cheap grace), instead of looking to go out with the gospel and get involved where the rest of the community are (free grace, under God's inspiration and guidance). Watch this space for more on that as "Our Vision" develops.
You can take the boy out of Salisbury, but you can't take Salisbury out of the boy; a big highlight today was spotting Martin Court, who had followed me as curate in Blandford Forum, and is now the Vicar of St Chad's Chadwell Heath. He and I therefore both began our ministry in a place where Maundy Thursday was a three-line whip, write a grovelling letter to the bishop if you can't be there type service. This will explain to you why I haven't been for the last 2 years!
The service today was pretty much the same as back in the old country, but in a smaller and slightly less formal environment. Although I was a bit taken aback it was kind of nice, more real, to have the oil sitting on gopack tables in Ikea jugs and the bishop wearing a pink Madonna style mic on his ear/cheek. I also though it was great that there was the offer of prayer for healing and anointing with oil. It was a bit of a faff to queue for the oil but at least I met some new people along the way.
On another tack, here's a joke to liven up your (otherwise holy and devout of course) day
I done up
I done up who?
I wondered what the smell was!